University Chapel Use Guidelines
Use of the University Chapel is subject to the University Facilities Use Policy, as well as the following guidelines and restrictions:
- All events must respect the integrity of the space, not potentially damage the building or its contents, refrain from blocking exits, entrances and throughways, not create any hazardous conditions (e.g., fire hazard), and not compromise the site's safety or function as a university venue and museum.
- Permission to use the University Chapel does not imply endorsement, sponsorship, or support by the University of the views, opinions, programs, or activities of the speakers, presenters, or organizers.
- Funerals and Memorial Services: The University Chapel auditorium is an unconsecrated and non-denominational space. Funeral Services are restricted to current or retired members of the University faculty and staff, as well as the current student body, who have died within the past year.
Memorial services are restricted to the immediate University family, listed above, as well as alumni who have been living in the immediate vicinity (Lexington and Rockbridge County), who have died within the past year.
- Weddings: The University Chapel auditorium is available for wedding ceremonies for W&L students listed in the University Directory for the current year, current and retired faculty and staff listed in the University Directory, alumni listed in the W&L Alumni Directory, university-related board members and officers emeriti, and the son or daughter of any of these individuals. As a courtesy and when scheduling permits, the University Chapel may also host Virginia Military Institute students (when Jackson Memorial Hall is unavailable), Lexington City, Buena Vista and Rockbridge County residents not otherwise affiliated with the university, and out-of-region weddings. Fees will apply.
The Events and Conference Coordinator will be happy to help you with questions about planning your wedding. The coordinator may be reached at 540-458-8931 between 8:30 AM and 4:30 PM, Monday through Friday.
Weddings are scheduled year-round on Saturdays and Sundays, although other days may be considered. A two-and-a-half-hour period is reserved for the wedding date and rehearsals are scheduled in one-hour increments on Friday and Saturday evenings prior to the wedding. Some weekends are reserved strictly for University events; please call ahead to confirm these weekends.
The main floor of the University Chapel auditorium can accommodate about 350 guests comfortably, with a maximum capacity of 400. The main floor must be filled to capacity before the balcony is open to guests. When the main floor is not filled to capacity, access to the balcony is limited to university staff, musicians and photographers/videographers.
If you would like to reserve the Chapel for a wedding, please will out the Wedding Reservation Form on our website.
- Available Areas: Activities in the University Chapel are confined to the Auditorium on the main floor. For activities taking place after hours or on weekends, there is no access to The Chapel Galleries, Lee's office, Lee family crypt or the bathrooms. Bathrooms are only available in designated buildings along the Colonnade. In addition, there are no dressing facilities available in the University Chapel.
- Equipment: The University Chapel Auditorium stage is furnished with an antique lectern, dating to the construction of the Chapel, and a piano. The piano must remain in its permanent location and nothing can be placed on the lectern other than notes for the speaker.
The Chapel is equipped with a projection system, handheld and lavalier microphones, a large lectern with a stationary microphone, W&L armchairs for stage seating, and lighting options. Requests for any of these items may be made on the reservation form.
- Scheduling: Requests must be submitted online using an Internal Group or Sponsored Group Reservation Form. Requests made by an Internal Group or Sponsored Group to use University Chapel for Major Events must be made at least four (4) business weeks prior to the date of the Major Event. Arrangements must be made through the Visitor Services Manager at the Museums in order to schedule a W&L Security Officer to open and close the Chapel Auditorium. The Visitor Services Manager, Events and Conference Coordinator, or a member of the University staff will stay with the building at all times until the event is over and Security returns to secure the building. The requesting organization is responsible for ensuring compliance with University and Chapel policies. If the evening or weekend activity is not a university function, there will be a required additional fee for a Security officer to be present (see Fees).
Whenever possible, use of the auditorium will be restricted during operating hours to ensure visitor access to the main floor.
The Chapel will remain open to the public up to 15 minutes before the scheduled event, unless otherwise indicated, and reopen to the public during normal operating hours immediately after the event ends. The Chapel Auditorium will not close all day, except for special university events or weather events.
University activities are a priority and scheduling in the University Chapel is subject to many changes during the year. We will do our best to inform you of any University, Museum or community event that may coincide with your event date or place unusual demands upon the Chapel's appearance or accessibility. Though unlikely, unusual circumstances may disrupt reservations made months or even years in advance.
EVENT ORGANIZERS, PLEASE NOTE: If you wish to use the Chapel auditorium as a backup venue for an event scheduled elsewhere on campus, you must make arrangements to reserve the Chapel prior to the event. The Visitor Services Manager will review the Chapel's availability and will notify Security of the possibility of an event. Advance arrangements should be made to open the Chapel at the faculty or staff member's request. Without this prior reservation, Security will NOT open the Chapel under any circumstances.
- Liability / Insurance: For Internal Group Events, the individual signing the Reservation Request Form, and related/affiliated groups, will be held responsible for all matters related to the event. A representative is REQUIRED to be present at the event. That individual and related/affiliated groups are responsible for leaving the premises in good condition and cleaning up the Auditorium.
For Sponsored Group Events, the external organization to which the permit is issued shall be liable for any loss, damage or injury sustained by any person whatever, including but not limited to by reason of negligence of the person or persons to whom such permit shall have been issued, and shall be liable for damage to the museum property and also responsible for cleaning up trash generated by activities allowed under the permit. The organization to which the permit is issued must obtain all appropriate and commercially reasonable insurances including but not limited to liability insurance with at least one million ($1,000,000) of coverage, and upon request provide a certificate of liability and damage insurance with at least one million dollars ($1,000,000) of coverage naming Washington and Lee University as an additional insured.
- Clean-Up: Because the University Chapel is available as a public space during the week and there is no 24-hour custodial staff, users of the facility have the responsibility to ensure that the space is left in the condition in which it was found prior to the scheduled use.
Clean-up should take place immediately after the scheduled event. Make certain that someone is assigned to be responsible for this duty. If the building is left in disorder by any group, W&L or other, a clean-up fee will be charged to the group responsible for the event. Full charges will be assessed for any damages to the Chapel or its furnishings requiring repair or replacement.
- Size of Groups / Occupancy Restrictions: Seating capacity of the auditorium is 525 (400 downstairs and 125 in the balcony). The main floor of the auditorium can accommodate about 350 guests comfortably. The main floor must be filled to capacity before the balcony is open to guests. When the main floor is not filled to capacity, access to the balcony is limited to university staff, musicians and photographers/videographers.
ALL events in the Chapel must be limited to no more than 525 persons. If the anticipated audience exceeds this number, the organizing department or group should consider providing an overflow alternative if one is deemed necessary. At NO TIME can there be anyone standing in the aisles or at the rear of the auditorium, sitting on the stairs, or blocking the entrance, exits, or throughways. Once the auditorium reaches capacity, entrance into the building should be regulated by a University Security officer or designated person in order to maintain safety.
When planning large events, the University Chapel & Galleries will arrange with Public Safety to provide crowd control at the Chapel throughout the event. Such events will include First Year Orientation, Parents Weekend, Alumni Reunion and other University events anticipating a crowd over 500. Additionally, the department or organization must provide at least two ushers to help the audience find available seats.
For any event where a large audience is expected, it is highly recommended that free tickets, not to exceed 500, be distributed prior to the event, in order to ensure equitable seating opportunities and to control the crowd in a rational and fair manner. If the University Singers are in the balcony, the number of seats available should be reduced by 25. The balcony will remain closed, except in the case of an overflow crowd, beyond the limit of 400 for the floor-level auditorium.
- No food and drink (including bottles of water) may be brought into or consumed at any time within the Chapel Auditorium, with the exception of water provided for speakers, choir members, or University staff working the event.
- Smoking or any open flame is NOT permitted, in any circumstances, in any area of the building.
- Cell phones must be placed on vibrate upon entering the Chapel.
- No tape of any kind may be used on any surface in the Auditorium.
- No flags may be displayed in the Chapel other than the University flags, which include the American flag, the Virginia State flag, the flag of the Society of the Cincinnati, and the flag of the University. These flags may only be moved by University Chapel personnel.
- The doors of the statue chamber will remain closed for all events. Unless otherwise requested, the University flags will be placed in front of the doors during events.
- No furniture, fixtures, fittings, or equipment belonging to the University Chapel & Galleries may be moved, including the piano, and no additional electrical equipment of any kind may be connected in the Chapel.
- Outside equipment, furniture, decorations, signs, or other props may not be brought into the Chapel with the exception of flowers for weddings, funerals, and memorial services, and objects used in the “activities expressly excluded from the definition of Major Event” as defined in the University Facilities Use Policy.
- No admission fee may be taken up at the door of the University Chapel and no sales or solicitation may be made during the event inside the Chapel Auditorium.
- Permission to use the Chapel Auditorium does not include use of the surrounding University grounds, including the parking lot.
A Museums staff member is available to answer questions regarding Chapel reservations between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Tuesday - Saturday. Because of other duties, an appointment should be scheduled in advance by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or 540-458-8768.